You’re Invited to a Super Fun Book Club! Monday, 3/27 at 6:30 p.m.: “The Promise of Jesse Woods” by Chris Fabry

Friends!  Grab  as many friends as you can find and dash over to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday, March 27th from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

 The girls at Branches Book Club will be discussing a beautifully written novel by Chris Fabry called The Promise of Jesse Woods and you do not want to miss a minute of it! 

Because there’s a mouth-watering church picnic scene in the story, we decided we’ll be having our own potluck supper Monday night.  Please bring a side dish to share if time allows.  The main course and drinks will be provided. Just one more incentive (read “bribe” and smile) to get you and your friends coming to Book Club!

One more teaser:  Chris has graciously sent us a twenty plus minute personal message about this book, so you won’t want to miss him either!  

Every single book I’ve read of Chris’ I declare it to be my favorite, and The Promise of Jesse Woods is no exception.  What’s fun about Chris’ writing is my sweet Hubster, a/k/a John, enjoys Chris’ books too and we have a blast discussing them.  This book received the 2017 Christianity Today Book Award Merit in the fiction category.

Some of his other books have won the coveted Christy Award (Dogwood 2009, Almost Heaven 2011 and Not in the Heart 2013)  and the Christian Book Award (also Almost Heaven 2011).  Click on his website and check out all the other books Chris has written:  fiction and non-fiction. And don’t miss his daily radio show, Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. (www.moodyradio.org )

One of many endorsers of this book happens to be author Charles Martin. Many of you know how much I like his writing and you’re in his camp as well.  Charles says Chris’ book is “a tender coming-of-age story of first love, innocence lost, and the soul-freeing power of truth.”

Before we get into a few glimpses of this novel, you guys out there may be interested in at least two of Chris’ non-fiction books. My guess is you had no idea he wrote these very cool, true stories:

Coming Back Stronger—Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry

The Winners Manual—for the Game of Life by Jim Tressel with Chris Fabry

(Fun sidebar:  John and I happen to have a copy of this book, signed by Tressel.  This came about when our dear friend Joe Daniels was Coach Tressel’s Quarterback Coach.  Like Tuesdays with Morrie, Jim Tressel sat at Joe Daniels’ bedside every single Tuesday while he battled cancer.  He gave a most poignant speech at Joe’s funeral.)

Back to our book:  You’ll love the characters in The Promise of Jesse Woods and feel as if you’re riding bikes down the roads of Dogwood, West Virginia with them.  You’ll sympathize with Matt whose extra pounds he’s packin’ bring him relentless teasing.

He and his family have moved to Dogwood for his Dad to be the town’s new preacher.  This makes Matt not only the new kid in town, but the Preacher’s Kid, and we all know what comes with that…

Matt quickly makes two new friends, both dragging a wagon full of baggage.  Matt’s new friend Dickie, is biracial, which brings that whole component with the story’s setting in 1972, while his other friend in the trio happens to be a girl named, Jesse Woods.  She becomes Matt’s first love which complicates matters just a tad.

In the book, Chris flips back and forth from 1984 to 1972, however you figure this out easily and read that much faster, trying to figure out where the plot will take you next.  One of the bad guys in the book will make you so mad because of how he affects so many, Matt’s Father, included.  His name even sounds like a dark cloud hovers over it:  Basil Blackwood.

At one point in the story, Matt wonders when his Father may grow a backbone no thanks to the very wicked Mr. Blackwood. Seems Mr. Blackwood minds the church’s business more than his own.

When Matt moves away to Chicago, he loses touch with these friends who’d been inseparable.  He says, “After high school I had ripped the rearview off my life.”

It’s back in Chicago where Matt gets a blast-from-the-past phone call from Dickie.  They really needed to patch things up, but the more pressing matter comes with Dickie’s announcement that their beloved Jesse is getting married in a few days.  Oh my…

Will Matt return to Dogwood?  And if he does, will he stop the wedding?  Will Jesse’s fiancée go after Matt?  Ah, my friend, you must read the book to find out!

Before we close, I’ll share just one of many beautiful quotes I’ve highlighted and dog-eared.  Matt is talking with his father who says, “Life is never easy…it may seem like it on the surface, but there’s a struggle to it all.  When Jesus told the disciples to go across the Sea of Galilee, they got in the boat and obeyed. And that was when one of the biggest storms blew up. So obeying God’s will can sometimes get you into trouble. But it’s better to follow him into a storm than to stay on the shore alone.”

One thing I always hunt for in a book is the meaning of its’ title.  You will flat fall out of your chair when you reach the meaning of The Promise of Jesse Woods.  I never saw it comin’…

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest book story and grab this book.  Even if you don’t finish it before Monday, you’ll still enjoy and be blessed by our lively discussion, fun fellowship and delicious food.

We’ll look forward to seeing you Monday night, March 27th at 6:30! 

‘Til next time!

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Let’s Prepare Our Hearts for Easter With Help from Liz Curtis Higgs and Her New Book: The Women of Easter—Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene

Friends!  Greetings this lovely Lenten Season!

I confess I haven’t proclaimed what I’m giving up yet even tho’ Ash Wednesday was March 1st…usually it’s chocolate and I manage to fail at keeping the promise.  Deep, I know…

My freshman year of college I gave up the elevator and walked the four flights of stairs to my room.  Deeper…

I love what my friend, Nancy Sleeth from www.BlessedEarth.org , suggests:

Consider what you might ADD during this season to draw closer to God?”

Nancy offers the following ideas:

All  great ideas, thanks Nancy!

I have another stellar idea for you that our Tuesday Bible study group, a/k/a “Blessings on Burlington” is about to embark on to help us appreciate Easter more.  We’ll be reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book, The Women of Easter—Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene.

Before I even opened the book, I need to own up to the fact I wasn’t certain who all these Marys were.  Once I dove in, I realized “Mary of Bethany” is none other than the chill-child-Mary vs. the nervous-Nellie-Martha…you know, that Mary and Martha duo.

How many times have we all said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things…” (Luke 10:41) Liz calls Martha the “first century Martha Stewart”. She kills me.

Mary of Nazareth was Jesus’ Mother and Mary Magdalene was the demon-possessed woman who Jesus healed and who became a devout follower of our Lord.  The numerous details Liz reveals within each chapter on these Marys is fascinating.

Liz tells us readers, “We’ll meet three women of Easter who poured our their lives for their beloved Teacher. .. Mary of Bethany prepared the Lord for burial by anointing Him with a priceless perfume. Mary of Nazareth, who’d watched Jesus draw His first breath, bravely watched Him breathe His last. Mary Magdalene witnessed His resurrection and proclaimed the good news to His disciples.”

Liz walks us thru’ several parts of the Bible, teaching us along the way via various translations, making us feel as if we’re right in every scene.  When Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave, you experience not only His affection for Lazarus, but the palpable grief from the sisters, Mary and Martha.

She explains what’s happening in certain passages, drawing a teaching point for us to think about, showing us how we can apply it to our life.  She also builds the tension toward what we know is coming:  the crucifixion…

Blissfully dotting the pages with her humor, we readers find this to be a relief from some of the very tough subject matter.  For example, when Liz is talking about the disciples deserting Jesus and fleeing (Matthew 26:56), she says, “It’s heartening to realize that Scripture has no parallel stories of women betraying Jesus, denying Jesus, or abandoning Jesus.”

Frederick Dale Bruner said, “They’re not like the disciple-defectors.” (!!!) Lizzie calls Jesus’ female followers “loyal from start to finish.”

Good luck getting thru’ Chapter Seven without hunting down a Kleenex or two, or ten.  Liz’ description of what Jesus endured as well as the women looking on will take your breath away.

Liz reminds us, “Lent is a time of remembering, of revisiting the familiar scenes in Scripture and discovering what God wants us to learn this year. We are not the same women we were twelve months ago. Our lives have changed and our perspectives have shifted. …His love for us has not changed, and our need for Him has not diminished.”

May we STOP… and consider what we’ve learned this past year as we refocus on the cross and the miraculous resurrection this Easter.  Liz’ book is akin to a guided tour toward the cross…and yet, praises we sing,  with an empowering ending.  Let’s celebrate!

More GOOD NEWS:

If you live anywhere near Louisville and are nearby next Wednesday, March 22nd, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Liz speak at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church at 6:00 p.m.  She’s one of their Lenten Series speakers and will be talking about this excellent book. She’s the third of five speakers each Wednesday before Easter. For more information, visit www.stfrancisinthefields.org

‘Til next time!

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Lace Up Those Shoes…Let’s Go Walkin’… Part 4 of 4 of our Fitness Focus (With Help from Author Lisa Preuett)

Friends!  We’re having unusually warm weather here in Kentucky for February and now March…I pray you are, too,  wherever you are.  We need to take advantage of this and get out and breathe in some fresh air!

Lace up those walkin’ shoes and let’s hit the pavement…Walking has a gazillion benefits for us.  We’ll highlight a few and become acquainted with a new friend of mine who recently published her first book.

This  week’s featured book rounds out the finale for our fitness focus.  It’s called Embracing the Race—40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul by Lisa Preuett and would be great for men or women.  Before you say, “Oh no, I’m not a runner, this doesn’t apply to me…”, let me reassure you that all forty out of forty devotionals are for everyone out there and I’ll show you why.

I discovered Lisa’s book thanks to my friend Sherry.  I contacted Lisa and we met for tea at Heine Brothers so I could learn more about her and how her book came to be.  She also writes an excellent blog via her website:  www.reststopforthesoul.com

Lisa says about her book, “Even if you’ve never run a day in your life, you’ll still gain wisdom and insight.”  She reminds us, “In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes about our walk of faith being just like a race. So no matter where you are in your race, I pray you’ll embrace it and be encouraged…”

Before we dive into the book, you need to know part of the proceeds from this book go to benefit Water Step International (www.waterstep.org ) Key in your zip code and several locations near you will pop up where you can donate your old shoes.  This is under the “Shoes for Water” section.  Water Step helps provide clean water in developing countries. What a great endeavor.

The format of Lisa’s devotional is time management at its’ finest:  short and sweet, loaded with equipping Scripture and life application questions. 

One of my favorite chapters asks, “Are you thoroughly equipped?”  Lisa begins  with “Shoes are to a runner what tires are to a car. Attempting to use the wrong type is damaging and utterly reckless…”

DANGER WILL ROBINSON…

I confess I did not heed this little warning. I made a very stupid, prideful mistake.  One recent escape to Naples, Florida found me sporting a pair of very cute tennis shoes.  They’d been a gift. My fifty-something self decided these kicks, while quite flat and less cushiony than I was used to, surely made me appear “cool and younger”.  I know. I know. I know

For nine days straight, I walked and jogged in these cute shoes, logging many, many miles. By the time we boarded dear ole’ Delta to fly home, I could barely walk.  My heels protested.  The next morning, I could hardly get out of bed.  I had a screaming case of plantar fasciitis. 

Folks, nine days of “cuteness” cost me a solid year’s worth of healing.  Healing your heels ain’t so easy, nor is it any fun at all.  At all.

Desperate, I headed over for help from my sweet friends at Footworks.  They promptly scolded me, shaking their heads in dismay. Rightly so.  Tough, painful lesson learned.  Good news is they promptly fitted me in wonderfully comfortable fit-like-a-glove  pair of running shoes. (www.footworkslouisville.com) They weren’t as wild as the below pair, but they do have a lovely shade of caribbean blue and mint green running along the sides. Footworks’ selections are plentiful.

After addressing essential equipment for running, Lisa says, “God also calls us to be thoroughly equipped…What does He call us to equip ourselves with?”

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to find the answer…

Lisa shows us from this verse:

We must equip ourselves with the powerful words from Scripture.  They must enter through our mind and then penetrate like deep roots to the depth of our soul.”

“We have to intentionally

EMBRACE them,
MEDITATE ON them,
PONDER them continually, and
DIGEST them through every fiber of our heart.

In doing so we will be prepared for every situation we face.”

Finding a good pair of shoes that fits you well is a financial investment.  Lisa reminds us that “Christ followers must also make an investment.  Not with money—but with our time and effort.  We must be intentional with prioritizing our lives around God’s Word…”

DON’T MISS THIS WARNING: Lisa continues,

“Neglecting time in God’s Word is an invitation for damage, disaster, and ruin.”

“Dear friend, I urge you to make the most crucial investment for your faith journey:  embrace the Word of God as the fuel that fires your very soul!”

Lisa closes each chapter with three small paragraph sections:

“READY?” – which offers excellent application questions,

“GET SET.”  – which is a Scripture to equip you to do just what the chapter suggests, AND

“GO!” – which is a beautiful prayer to keep us moving in the right direction.

Finally, let’s consider a list of benefits of walking from the folks at Tesco in the United Kingdom.  You can find dozens of similar lists from the Mayo Clinic here in the States, to just about anywhere.  I chose this list because I’m especially attached to reason #5.  Hey, we all need an incentive, coupled with a good laugh!

You can get Lisa’s book from her website. (See top of this post.) There are five options for where to get it plus you can preview ten of the devotions  for FREE before you decide if you’d like it by clicking on the Amazon link in her website.

My guess is you’re already thinking of some of your walking buddies who would like to have this devotional.  Read it together so you can be inspired together.

Let’s get out there and do some walking!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  Next week we’ll prepare our hearts for Easter with help from Liz Curtis Higgs since we’re in the Lenten season.

 

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Does Sitting on the Back of a Harley Count as Exercise? Author Sarah Huxford Helps Us Figure This Out (Part 3 of 4 on Fitness)

Friends!  Well, we’re back on our fitness series, however you’ll be relieved to know this portion is more of a workout for your marriage or relationship with a loved one. 

We had such a rough workout from CycleBar week before last, we’ll warm up slowly this week to prepare for a more rigorous workout and grand finale next week.

Allow me to introduce you to a uniquely titled book:  The Harley Chronicles—Everything I Learned About My Marriage on the Back of a Harley by Sarah Huxford.

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My dear friend Judy Russell gave me this book.  Bob and Judy are good friends with Sarah and her husband, Cam.  Cam is the Senior Pastor at Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia.  Sarah is the Women’s Community Pastor. www.compassionchristian.com

Cam invites Bob to speak at their church often, so over the years, Judy’s gotten to know Sarah.  Surely they bonded immediately, both being pastor’s wives.

The common thread ends there, however, as Sarah’s husband took up a new hobby.  Oh yeah, a two-wheeled one, only this one comes with a motor.  While I don’t know Cam, somehow I envision him saying to Sarah, “Honey, I bought a hog.” (Sarah, I can commiserate…my husband rode Harleys and BMW’s for over fifteen years. However, you entered into this world later than we did, which seems to be a great thing for you guys!)

motorcycle-1219612_1920

Sarah and Cam had just entered into a new season of their lives.  They had an empty nest.  Not only had their children flown the coop, but sadly their beloved dog, Bucky, went to Doggy Heaven.  Their newfound freedom wasn’t as exciting as they’d hoped…yet…

More-than-they-asked-for-advice was offered and the new solution to their freedom appeared in the driveway.  Meet Big Red. (See his photograph on the cover of her book.)

Sarah confesses she wasn’t too thrilled over the new member of their family, however once Cam said, “Jump on, let’s go for a ride…” The rest, as they say, was history.

I’m proud of Sarah for being so brave.  Not just for jumping on the back of the bike, but also because one should also wear proper attire,  leather being a must.  Her friends from church asked, “Who are you and what have you done with our preacher’s wife?”

The format of the book is excellent.  It offers four parts in each chapter:

1 –  Sarah candidly shares lessons she has learned from being on the back of their Harley.  You’ll crack up over some of her new discoveries.  Her learning curve is highly amusing. Her lessons are for all of us in any relationship.

2 – The lessons are followed by her “Bible Back-up”:  She does a beautiful job with this as these sections are like mini-Bible studies.  Sarah guides us thru’ verses from Genesis, Song of Solomon, Ephesians, Proverbs, 1 Corinthians, and many more.

One eye-opening exercise Sarah takes us thru’ in 1 Corinthians 13 becomes very personal when we’re told to insert our names  where the word “love” is.

Watch this little humbling exercise:

“Elizabeth is patient, Elizabeth is kind, Elizabeth does not envy, Elizabeth is not proud, Elizabeth does not dishonor others, Elizabeth is not easily angered, etc.”

Now YOU try this with YOUR name.  How do you fare??? Makes you think, huh?

Another one of many topics Sarah covers is on commitment.  She says,

commitment

 

She continues, “There is nothing like good old-fashioned commitment. It is undervalued in a culture like ours, in which we want things fixed fast…Cam and I are often asked what made our marriage last and endure the hard times. Our answer is usually simple. We committed to this marriage until one of us dies.”  AMEN, Sarah!

3 – Several discussion questions are included after the Bible study parts which are great for small groups or Bible study groups.

At the end of the discussion questions, Sarah recommends a  book on marriage in each chapter, so you can learn about eight additional books you may be interested in.

4 – The last part of each chapter is another favorite of mine.  Sarah includes “Biker’s Trip Stats and Passenger’s Log”.  This is like a wonderful, fascinating travelogue.  She includes the miles she and Cam rode, the highways they took, “great places to eat”, and their favorite “don’t miss this” sight seeing spots.

Map Reading

This would be wonderful not only for bikers, but for those of us who love road trips.  Sarah and Cam’s trips range from a short 25 mile trip, to longer ones, ranging from 109 miles to over 800 miles.

Let’s look at their trips:

Departure:  Savannah, GA to Tybee Island, GA

Departure:  Baneberry, TN to Fontana, NC

Don’t miss Sarah’s story about The Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap–offering a mere 318 curves in eleven miles in Chapter 3.  She has about as much affinity for it as I do, altho’ I have slayed that dragon,  yet differently than she did.  Checkout our experience from a few years ago.

Departure: Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Key West, FL

Departure: Steamboat Springs, CO to Boulder, CO

Departure:  Somers, MT to Sequim, WA

Departure:  Seattle, WA to Whistler, BC, Canada

Departure:  Lake Louise, AB, Canada to Somers, MT

This week, your exercise in our fitness series is to evaluate your marriage or your relationship with your loved one.  If you were to ride on the back of a Harley, as in being up close and personal, how would you rank your relationship?  Close?  Middle-of-the-road? Distant?  What step can you take this week to make it one notch better than it is now?

I’m praying for all of us in this endeavor.  Thanks again to Sarah, for writing such a fun, resourceful, poignant read.

Lace up your tennis shoes, for we’re hitting the pavement next week!

‘Til next time!

 

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You’re Invited to an Evening with Beth Moore and Beignets! Monday, 2/27, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Friends!  Wow, do we ever have a heap o’ good news for you!

First off, we’re taking a break from our fitness series…we’ll return to that next week. Ahhh, please sit back and relax…..

Woman Resting In Hammock

Secondly, you do not want to miss Branches Book Club Meeting  next week!  You and your friends are invited to join us for a wild discussion of an even wilder novel.  We’ll be meeting on Monday evening, February 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 www.middletownumc.org

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

We’ll be discussing Beth Moore’s debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  A  novel by Beth Moore?  I know,  it’s true!

Undoing of Saint

EVEN MORE EXCITING:

Beth is sending us a personal message for us to watch.  It’s the next best thing to having her right in the room with us.  You do NOT want to miss this opportunity!!!

Beth Moore

Most of you know Beth from having done one or more of her eighteen Bible studies.  My guess is many of you’ve grown your faith, thanks to Beth’s workbooks and videos and divine insight into God’s Word.  (A few of my favorites are Believing God, Stepping Up, Daniel,  and Mercy Triumphs.  What are some of yours?)

I also bet you were as stunned as I was to learn she’d written a novel.  It’s a tad on the tome side, too, weighing in at four hundred and sixty-eight pages.  But, it’s a page-turner, so  sadly you’ll be done before you want to be.

I’m still shaking my head at the intricacies and shocking suspense of the plot (it’s akin to riding a hair-raising roller coaster), the variety of personalities of her characters (oh, you’ll laugh out loud), and the lovely setting in New Orleans.  You can almost taste the food she serves up.

Speaking of food (!!!), you’ll be enticed to learn the Branches Book Club gals will be serving up beignets Monday night.

Beignets (french Style Donuts)

On the off chance you’ve not sampled a beignet before, let me further lure you to join us.  I learned of beignets from a friend I met my freshman year of college named Nonie.  She hails from New Orleans.

At the beginning of Mardi Gras week, Nonie’s parents sent her a huge package.  It had a King Cake in it, along with a couple of boxes of beignet mix, a bag of powdered sugar and brown paper lunch bags. Huh?

Nonie declared it was “Beignet Time” and we were going to have a firsthand lesson on how to make some.  We didn’t have a kitchen in our dorm, but we did have a huge hallway bathroom where we could plug in Nonie’s Fry Baby.  (Do not think on that for very long, or you’ll lose your appetite.)

We learned the brown paper lunch bags were perfect for dumping powdered sugar into, followed by piping hot beignets (a few at a time), fresh out of the fryer.

Oh my, makes my mouth water.  Way better than a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut, a hot beignet is fab for breakfast, lunch,  dinner or any time, truth be told.

Want to try some?  Come to Book Club!  And if you want to try making some at home, all you have to do is locate a mix by the famous folks from Café du Monde.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry some, hop over to Amazon

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What more could you ask for than hearing from Beth Moore, with beignets in front of you, and time with the fun gals at Branches Book Club?  Call up a buddy and mosey on over.

Those of you who have a recipe for anything creole, or New Orleans-inspired, please bring it if time allows. Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839.

The discussion will be eye-opening given the many subjects Beth touches on.  Without spoiling any details, all I’ll say is I’d love to meet and spend time with Miss Adella Atwater.  Clearly she’s not only a devoted follower of our Lord, she brilliantly orchestrates how to bring others into His fold as well.  Well done, Miss Beth.

Hope to see you Monday, February 27th!

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

‘Til next time!

 

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New Gig in Town: CYCLE BAR, Will Transform You in 5+ Ways…(Part 2 of 4 on Fitness)

Friends! Happy Valentine’s Week!

Hope you’re parked by a chunk of chocolate…

Chocolate candies heart

Wait ‘til you hear about a new exercise option we Louisvillians have. Before you say, “Not interested”, please allow me to present my case…  Because trust me, if I can do this anybody can do this.

As if last December could be any busier with all the Christmas shoppers wreaking havoc on the road, our kids excitedly discovered a new cycling/spinning class that just opened.  It’s name? CycleBar. (It’s near Trader Joe’s in the Shelbyville Road Plaza.)

The plot thickened when these same kiddos told us for the first two weeks CycleBar was open, classes were free. They jumped at the opportunity.  One by one, they began telling us how much they liked the classes…

Didn’t take long for Hubster (my better half) to try a class. He’s an avid cyclist while I practically still need training wheels. Honestly, the more he told me about it, how you get  to have your name up on the board and see how you compare with the rest of the class (gulp), I quickly blurted out, “This is not for me.”

Half a second later, he said, “Well, you may want to retract that statement as I believe some certain Santa may have purchased a package of classes for you for Christmas.” Alrighty then.

Off we went. (By the way, you do not have to have your name up on the board if you don’t want to.  Hallelujah. You’ll receive an email immediately after class with your stats.)

Upon arrival, CycleBar’s gracious staff greeted us. One gal made sure I could find my shoes (They provide them for you if you don’t have any as everyone must clip in), helped us sign in, etc.  There are lockers for your belongings, huge water bottles you can fill, and lovely, clean, fluffy towels awaiting you on your bike.

Riders of all ages, shapes, and sizes attend. Check your pride and insecurity at the door: Judgment is non-existent. A huge plus!

Welcome

If you need help adjusting your bike or clipping in, the staff and/or the class’ teacher is happy to help. Being pampered is just another benefit.

I’m generally not a fan of group exercise, but, our kids, and now John, reassured me the classroom, a/k/a CycleTheater containing fifty bikes, is nice and cool and dark. Only YOU can see your bike’s screen with your time, your speed, your gear, and “IT IS YOUR OWN RIDE” as the teachers reiterate.

What’s so awesome about this little fact is I can happily tool along next to John while his bike is practically smokin’. He usually doubles my miles, but who cares? We’re both getting a workout and it’s something we can do together. Had we been out on the street on bikes, he’d have long left me in the dust.

Before I share a few more benefits of this experience with you, I want to introduce you to my new friend, Katie Kanapell Ryser. Katie’s the Owner of CycleBar St. Matthews.

kate-cycle-bar

We grabbed a Starbucks last week as I was interested in learning how someone so young (she’s only 37 years old!) could pull off bringing such a huge endeavor to town. You’ll see it was no simple journey getting here either…

Clip in, ‘cuz we’re going for a ride….

cycletheatre3

Katie and her husband, Fred, lived in New York City for several years. They had their two children while living there who are now almost five (Freddie) and three (Carolina). Katie’s parents live here and are beyond thrilled they’ve moved to Louisville!

Before we got into how CycleBar came about, Katie candidly shared her past with me because she believes if it can help anyone else out there who’s struggling, all the better. She’s a beautiful vision of making her former misery her ministry.

Early into their marriage, Katie realized she was drinking too much. She needed help, and good news is, she got it.  Greater news is she’ll celebrate her seventh anniversary of sobriety in May. We praise you, Lord.

While in New York, Katie tried several spinning classes via Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel. Something led her to research spinning classes in Louisville should they move here. Nothing turned up like what she was looking for… She firmly believed we needed a high-end fitness class offering a strong cardio’ workout.

Further research helped her discover CycleBar, headquartered in Cincinnati. How Katie was able to get the rights to open one here, is nothing short of a miracle.  Katie is one determined young lady.

Happy to report she’ll be opening two more CycleBars in Louisville: Springhurst, opening after Labor Day this year, and one in the Highlands, opening next year. Here’s her St. Matthews’ boutique:

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If you don’t live in Louisville and want to see if CycleBar is in your town or closeby, go to the main website, www.cyclebar.com and click on “studios”.  Last I checked there are over one hundred and eleven locations.

Prior to opening in St. Matthews, thanks to friends and a boatload of networking, Katie interviewed over one hundred peopleShe was able to staff her store as well as hire eleven teachers.

She brought in a professional spin trainer for the teachers. These eleven brave souls were baptized by fire in a one-week boot camp for….nine hours a day. Gutsy!

John and I’ve met several of the teachers. They are all wonderful. One fun connection we have is with Jady Koch.  He not only teaches classes at CycleBar, he just so happens to be the lead pastor/rector at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, preaching powerful sermons.   (Sweet Sidebar:  Jady performed the marriage of our youngest son, Woody to his wife, LT.)

I’m convinced Jady must’ve loved the game King of the Hill growing up, because he takes us on forty-seven hills during our fifty-minute class. (Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration.)

Jady says he has a newfound appreciation for all the coaches and fitness teachers he’s had in the past, never realizing how much advance work goes into coordinating a class.  He said “Teaching has been a great way to meet a cross section of the community and a wonderful way to encourage people in their (our) daily quest for a healthy and fun lifestyle.”

 

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Here’s a pic of my Valentine with Jady before class…as in no sweat yet!

Another teacher we’ve enjoyed getting to know is Paige. We’ve taken her early class a couple of times.  Last time her husband was in there with us, as her student.  He’s from Germany and they met at Southern Seminary where they’re students.  They’ve been married for a year.  Don’t you love a love story?  Hey, it’s Valentine’s Week!

One addition to the cycling part of class is each bike has a weighted bar across the top. A little over halfway thru’ the class, the teacher will show you how to lift it, working all the muscles in your arms as well as your core.  While the bars are only four or six pounds (I hear there are eight pounders coming soon), with enough reps, they feel more like four hundred pounds!

Finally, here are just a few more benefits to encourage you to give this a try:

5+ Benefits of Spinning/Cycling:

1 – The Bible tells us we’re to take care of our bodies. Exercise is an excellent way to do that.

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2- Believe it or not, sweating is a benefit, because it’s so cleansing for your body to get rid of all those impurities, detoxifying you during your workout.

When you try a class (and I know you will!), you may wish to tote along an extra shirt because the one you ride in becomes a bit damp. We take the euphemism, “Horses Sweat, Men Perspire, But Women Merely Glow” to a whole new level. (Showers are also available if you’re going to work or to another function from there.)

3 –A cardio’ workout of this caliber will kick your metabolism into gear. (Translation:  potential weight loss!) It also strengthens your heart, your lungs, and increases your bone density, hugely beneficial for all ages.

Katie tells me there’s a guy who’s been coming to CycleBar who’s lost forty pounds and is determined to lose sixty more for a total of 100 pounds! He keeps her updated weekly. Amazing!

4 – Fellow cyclists report having more energy, and less stress, improving their mental disposition. 

Recently two co-workers whose department was undergoing an inordinate amount of stress randomly showed up in the same noon-time CycleBar class.   When they saw each other, they burst out laughing, knowing they were both there for the exact same reason…to de-stress.

Another gal who’s been attending CycleBar classes has a condition that leaves her exhausted and often depressed. After taking several classes, she’s lost fifteen pounds, feels amazingly better, and her depression is gone.  Wonderful!

5 – Spinning inside is SAFE.  It keeps you off the road.

John and I have several friends who’ve had terrible bicycle accidents. Some, more than once.  We live near River Road and my worry-meter rises significantly when John takes off from our house on his bike. Like I said earlier, the fact that we can ride together, inside at Cycle Bar is yet another benefit.

The music the teachers select is another fun facet to CycleBar, offering a wide variety of songs and styles.  Occasionally the teacher will ask you to bend down or press down on the handlebars to the beat of the music, while riding.  (Here’s where I could be Steve Martin’s understudy in The Jerk.)  Oh, but it’s FUN!

Beyond enduring technical issues, and an occasional maintenance issue with the bikes, Katie said they’re coming up for air on the learning curve. Her attention to detail and passion for the product is what makes it function so well.

CycleBar further spoils its’ customers by always having fresh bananas and oranges for you after class, gum to grab on the go before or after class, and lip balm…come on now!

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CycleBar is always offering specials.  They now allow couples to share packages which John and I are doing as are our oldest son, John Jr. with his wife, Diana. (They were the two elves who gave us the packages for Christmas.)

Here’s what’s available right now:

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Why don’t you and your Valentine or friend or co-worker try a class? CycleBar offers several classes per day with Intro’ classes for beginners.  Checkout their website: https://stmatthews.cyclebar.com

Y’all keep Katie, and her sweet family, and this new business-for-fitness in your prayers.

You’ll be thrilled to know next week we have a break from fitness to talk about Book Club, followed by part 3 of our 4 fitness landing us on the back of… a Harley. Huh?

‘Til next time!

FYI: Don’t miss Ken Davis’ must-read, Fully Alive. It’s for anyone considering a fitness/lifestyle change.  He takes you along his highly intense journey and amazing transformation.  You will laugh and cry ‘til you’ve bruised a rib. Here’s the link for more information.

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Filed under Friends, Holidays, Life Lessons

The Single Most Effective Exercise You Can Do… (With Help from New Author, Carol Bonura and her book, “Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God”) Part 1 of 4 on Fitness

Friends!  Let’s play Good News/Bad News….

Bad news first:  Yes, we’ll be doing a four-part series on fitness over the next few weeks which does involve exercise. But, here on the blog, you only have to read about it.  If you want to try it, well, that’s up to you!

Good news:  We’ll be starting out slowly (!!!), and some of the exercise is metaphorical vs. physical.  We’ll break halfway thru’ to talk about Book Club (Mark your calendars for February 27th when Branches Book Club will be discussing Beth Moore’s debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Sylvanus and will receive a personal video message from Beth.)

**Even BETTER news**:  There’s a brand new book out by my sweet friend, Carol Bonura.  It would be great for any age, male or female.  Checkout the title:  Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God.

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The format is fantastic as is each, unique story by over forty different individuals.  As the title indicates, these friends of Carol’s share a story where God has revealed Himself.  Many of the stories are an only-God-could-pull-this-off kind, leaving no other possible explanation.

Prior to the contributor’s story, Carol shares how she knows this person.  Their story rolls, followed by that person’s favorite Scripture verse.  Carol then blesses each contributor with a verse which is not only fitting to the story, I believe it inspires that person to carry on. To see the Word of God “work together” so beautifully is another one of my favorite parts of Carol’s book.

I can’t begin to choose a favorite story.  I’ve loved them all.  (I happen to have a story in Carol’s book and while it’s my story, it’s still a cool God-incident, also irrefutable.)

Bob Russell wrote the Foreword and he has written a story.  Liz Curtis Higgs, Pat Day, Elizabeth Jeffries, Amos Martin, Dave Stone, and Joe Donaldson are just a few of the many contributors.

Bob said, “When we allow the Spirit of God to work through us, we have a positive story to tell to the nations, a story that can change lives and inspire others to be more than they can be alone.”

Carol’s book came about from a recent vacation she and her husband, Joe,  took with friends.  Carol tells us while on vacation, they all participated in Bible study every morning.

She was so moved by Ecclesiastes 3:11, she decided to ask these six friends to share “how they’d been impacted by the immensity of God.” After hearing their amazing stories, it was Joe who suggested she enlist more friends and family to share their stories on the Bigness of God, putting them together in a book.

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Once you dive into the book, you’ll immediately say to yourself, “Oh my goodness, so-and-so would enjoy this!”  Take my advice and have a notepad nearby as one friend will lead to five.  What a beautiful gift this makes.

So, I’ve dodged exercise long enough…What’s fun about this week’s post is you can read Carol’s book and try this most effective exercise at the same time.

A fascinating book came out in 2010 entitled The Blue Zones—Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner (The 2nd edition is in paperback.)

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Dan used to write for National Geographic magazine.  His article on “The Secrets of Long Life” and its’ popularity, caused him to research the ends of the earth to find more concentrated areas of living centenarians. He studied the lifestyle of these people. They dubbed these parts of the world “Blue Zones”.

Dan also includes lessons enabling you to create your own personal Blue Zone. Happy to report one of the common denominators you’ll discover is these folks consume dark chocolate.

Every day. 

(Just on the off chance you need one more reason to consume chocolate.)

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Other common denominators include participating in a community.  Another one, across the board, is these folks walk everywhere.  Many times, logging miles and miles a day.  (One of our four exercise posts will discuss walking and jogging in detail…)

One of a handful of helpful take-home resources is where Dan reveals the single most effective exercise you can do for yourself :  Simply sit in a chair.  Followed by standing to get yourself up out of the chair. (These women in the picture are practicing!)

Senior Women Standing And Sitting For ExerciseWorking your three sets of thigh muscles faithfully will keep you out of a wheelchair. I know this to be true as this happened to my own Mother.  She quit trying, and kept sitting, causing her to be unable to get up out of that chair, sadly landing her in a wheelchair, immobile.

My proposition to you dear friends, today, is to suggest you grab a good book.  Preferably Carol’s new one, Our God is a Big God, and read one of the stories each day. 

Take it with you to your favorite chair.  Sit down, read one of the stories.  Then get up!  This simple act will help you stay mobile. Read another story, repeating this action the next day.  And the next…

Now see?  That wasn’t too painful!  This is a mere warm-up for next week’s post.  Much  more vigorous exercise lies ahead…

One more fun fact before we close:  I was blessed to meet Carol many years ago thru’ mutual friends plus we attended Book Club together.  One New Year’s Eve, John and I were with Carol and Joe and Liz and Bill Higgs over at Elizabeth Jeffries’ home.  Elizabeth and Stephen had asked us over for dinner to ring in the New Year.

We each shared something fun we’d done in the previous year.  I about fell out of my chair when Carol reported she’d read sixty-five books that year.  How wonderful for her she now has her very own book for us to read!  Congratulations, Carol!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  FYI, here are other interesting books by the Blue Zone guy,  Dan Buettner:

The Blue Zone Solution:   Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

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Thrive:  Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Life Lessons